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The colposcopy

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					The colposcopy
What is a colposcopy?
A colposcopy is a close examination of a woman’s cervix and
vagina. It is performed using an instrument called a
colposcope, which looks like a pair of binoculars on a stand.
The colposcope gives the doctor a magnified view of the
cervix to check the extent and nature of any cervical cell
abnormalities.

Who needs a colposcopy?
Women who have a high-grade abnormality on a Pap test
result or several low-grade abnormalities. Women who
experience symptoms such as bleeding after sexual
intercourse may also be referred to a colposcopy clinic or a
gynaecologist experienced in colposcopy.

How does a colposcopy differ from a Pap test?
A Pap test is a quick and simple screening test that looks for
changes in individual cells of the cervix. A colposcopy is an
examination that allows the doctor to have a closer look at the
cervix to assess whether treatment is required. It usually takes
about 10 minutes.

How is a colposcopy done?
For the procedure you will be asked to undress from the waist
down and sit in an examination chair with leg supports.

Once you are comfortable, the doctor will insert a speculum
into the vagina, like a Pap test. The doctor will paint the cervix
with a solution to highlight any abnormal areas, then place the
colposcope at the entrance of the vagina. The colposcope
itself does not enter the body. The doctor will look through the
colposcope to carefully examine the cervix and view the
location of any abnormal cells. If abnormal cells are visible,
the doctor may perform a biopsy.

What is a biopsy?
A biopsy is the removal of a sample of abnormal cell tissue from
the surface of the cervix, performed during the colposcopy.
Biopsies are not usually painful, however you may experience

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The colposcopy



some discomfort. The samples are                        What preparation is needed
sent to a laboratory and it takes up to                 before a colposcopy?
two weeks for results to come back                      A colposcopy is preferably not
to your doctor.                                         performed when a woman has her
                                                        period. Some women experience
When your results are available, your                   cramping (similar to period pain)
doctor will recommend one of the                        during the colposcopy, and find it
following:                                              helpful to take a painkiller,
                                                        paracetamol or an anti-inflammatory
   •   treatment                                        normally used for period pain, an
   •   a repeat colposcopy at a                         hour before the procedure to
       later date                                       minimise discomfort.
   •   more frequent Pap tests
   •   no further action.                               How much does a colposcopy
                                                        cost?
What should I do after a biopsy?                        The cost of a colposcopy differs
You may experience some                                 depending on how your doctor bills,
discomfort for a short time after a                     and some of it will be reimbursed by
biopsy, often similar to period pain.                   Medicare. Please ask your doctor
You should avoid heavy physical                         about the cost when you make the
exercise, sexual intercourse,                           appointment.
swimming, bathing and spas for
24–48 hours after the procedure.                        For more information about
These precautions are to reduce                         colposcopies or to order the
the risk of bleeding or infection. It is                booklet Pap test results: A guide
recommended you wear a sanitary                         for women with an abnormal Pap
pad after the procedure as there                        test visit www.papscreen.org.au
may be some spot bleeding for a                         or call the Cancer Council
few days.                                               Helpline on 13 11 20.




                                                                                             May 2009



                        PapScreen Victoria is the Victorian component of the National Cervical Screening Program
                        and is coordinated by the Department of Human Services. Cancer Council Victoria delivers
                        PapScreen's education and communications initiatives.

				
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